The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Saturday, December 5, 2020


'Pioneer' octogenarian Vietnamese artist gets first solo exhibit
This photograph taken on October 8, 2020 shows 89-year-old Vietnamese artist Mong Bich painting at her house in Bac Ninh province, east of Hanoi. Bich specialises in silk paintings of daily life and ordinary people, women in particular, and ploughed a lonely furrow during many years of war when artists were steered towards the army or frontline workers as subjects. Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP.

by Alice Philipson



HANOI (AFP).- Aged almost 90, Vietnamese artist Mong Bich picks a spot on the tiled floor of her favourite room, checks the light and sits down to paint.

A "pioneer" who has inspired generations of women artists in Vietnam, Bich has won plaudits overseas and she has a watercolour in the British Museum's collection.

But for years she has been overlooked in her home country -- and has had to wait until this month for her first solo exhibition.

"Painting is like eating rice for me -- I have to eat rice and I have to paint," Bich told AFP at her home on the outskirts of Hanoi, where she still works for up to eight hours a day.

At first, she had hesitated over holding a solo show, but her children encouraged it.

"I do not want to sell my work so I did not see the point. My paintings are my memories," she said ahead of this month's opening in the capital.

Specialising in silk paintings of daily life and ordinary people -- women in particular -- Bich ploughed a lonely furrow during years of war against the United States, when artists were steered towards drawing soldiers or frontline workers.

"Portraits of individuals were not appreciated at that time, but they were Mong Bich's forte," said Phan Cam Thuong, an eminent art critic and researcher.

'Painting is happiness'
Born in 1931 during the French colonial era, Bich spent decades caring for her husband, a violinist and independence fighter who was wounded fighting French forces in Laos. They lived in desperate poverty while she raised their two children.

Needing to earn a living, in 1956 she enrolled in one of the first classes of the newly opened Vietnam College of Art in Hanoi and took a job drawing propaganda cartoons for a newspaper.

But she never stopped sketching what she saw on the streets -- a poor, old woman curled up on the floor and a mother breastfeeding a baby, a drawing considered so scandalous it was initially removed from an exhibition in 1960.




"I paint on my own, in my style," she said. "Some may like my paintings, some not -- I really don't care."

Despite everything she had to deal with, her "pioneer spirit" shone through, and she persevered with her work, said Nora Taylor, professor of South and Southeast Asian art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

"I think many women subsequently looked up to her."

Bich's watercolour portrait of an elderly woman seated on the floor won first prize in 1993 at the Vietnam Fine Arts Association Annual Exhibition, but fame did not follow.

The lack of recognition is due to "a kind of erasure of women's contributions in Vietnam's art history, said Taylor, as happened across much of the world.

But that is finally changing, and there is growing acknowledgement that Bich's life, and her paintings, are testimony to what many went through in 20th century Vietnam.

"In many ways, her story is Vietnam's story. She did not have an easy life," said Thierry Vergon, director of L'Espace, the French cultural centre that hosted the Hanoi exhibition.

"There was a lot of pain, a lot of death but she kept going."

For Bich, her work has always been a way of coping with whatever life threw at her.

"Happiness was when I could make a sketch or a painting," she said.

"That was my way of dealing with life's difficulties."


© Agence France-Presse










Today's News

October 29, 2020

Fashion's past and present commune at New York's Met

Misogyny in art? Spain's Prado pleads guilty

Baltimore Museum of Art issues statement on deaccession and future plans

The Phillips Collection announces new acquisitions

'Pioneer' octogenarian Vietnamese artist gets first solo exhibit

Tracey Emin explores love, loss and longing in new exhibition at Xavier Hufkens

New York seeks art tax whistleblowers

Amon Carter announces new acquisitions by Charles White, Wendy Red Star, Sandy Rodriguez and Justin Favela

Souls Grown Deep launches Resale Royalty Award Program for African American artists

Christie's announces Hong Kong to New York - A 20th Century Relay Auction

Carmine Bruno announces new global marketplace for high-end furniture, antiques and collectibles

Gifts from Queen Victoria to her goddaughters set to make thousands at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge

Christie's announces November Latin American Art sales

Playthings for adults and children - bears, dolls & trains - go to auction

Sullivan+Strumpf to represent acclaimed Australian ceramic artist Lynda Draper

Exhibition at Kunsthaus Graz brings together Herbert Brandl's most important groups of works

The MAXXI Bvlgari Prize exhibition is now on display at MAXXI

The Scottish Gallery presents a new collection of works by Lachlan Goudie

Watch Ai Weiwei make history in Piccadilly Circus with hour long film presentation

Marie-Laure Fleisch exhibits work by Bettina Samson, Jennifer Tee, and Joani Tremblay

The Korean Cultural Centre UK opens a solo exhibition of work by Seoul-based artist Jewyo Rhii

Bronze of renowned racehorse formerly owned by Sir Stanley Clarke CBE to go up for auction

Cooke Latham Gallery features works by Rose Davey, Leah Guadagnoli and Erin O'Keefe

Black art and poetry elevate a tribute to Civil Rights leaders

A Good Club Makes a Good Golfer: Here's What High Handicappers Need

Classic Video Games Which Are Considered Art

What are common causes of clogged drains, and How to deal with them

The Art Of Storytelling In Video Games

Social slots: how far are they safe for playing?

Why choose online casinos?

How does alkaline water improve blood oxygen circulation in our bodies?





Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful